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By algenuity 20 Jun, 2017
Welcome to our first Algenuity newsletter!  We hope this newsletter will help you make the most of your Algem labscale photobioreactor, keep you updated on the latest Algenuity news and partnership opportunities, and also show you some interesting algal research examples from our lab and around the world.
By algenuity 10 May, 2017

Arthrospira platensis (commonly referred to as Spirulina , despite belonging to a morphologically distinct genus) is a filamentous cyanobacterium characterised by its beneficial nutritional content, left handed open helical form, and ability to grow under highly alkaline conditions. A. platensis is protein rich and has been utilised as a traditional foodstuff in multiple cultures, most notably in Central America and in the region surrounding Lake Chad. Recently A. platensis has experienced a resurgence as a health food and a source of the blue pigment phycocyanin for use as a food colourant.

By algenuity 10 May, 2017

Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 is a unicellular freshwater cyanobacterium commonly employed as a cyanobacterial model system. It is capable of both photo- and heterotrophic growth making it useful for studying photosynthetic processes, and has a well defined circadian clock. Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 is naturally competent allowing direct uptake of recombinant DNA, and has a well defined molecular toolbox including a sequenced genome. There has also been interest in the use of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 for biofuel applications, both in itself and as a model for other third generation biofuel platforms.

By algenuity 08 Mar, 2017
Dr. Sarah D'Adamo, a Senior Algal Research Scientist at Algenuity, today won the 2nd place poster prize at the "Synthetic Biology for Natural Products" conference that was held this week from the 5th to 8th March 2017 in Cancun, Mexico.

Sarah's poster is titled, "Engineering the unicellular brown algae Phaedactylum tricornutum for high-value triterpenoid sapogenin production".

This Algenuity research comes from a 48 month European Union-funded FP7 grant called TriForC that began in October 2013 and ends this year in October 2017.  TriForC is an acronym for "a pipeline for the discovery, sustainable production and commercial utilisation of known and novel high-value triterpenes with new or superior biological activities". 

Other consortium partners of TriForC include University of Copenhagen (Denmark), Alkion Biopharma SAS (France), Vivacell Biotechnology España SL (Spain), Stockton Israel Ltd. (Israel), Extrasyntheses SAS (France), VIB (Belgium), John Innes Centre (United Kingdom), Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), Universita Degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale Amedeo Avogradro (Italy), and University of Thessaly (Greece).

More information on the TriForC grant can be found at the website:  http://triforc.eu/

More information on the"Synthetic Biology for Natural Products" conference can be found at the website: https://www.fusion-conferences.com/conference58.php

By algenuity 13 Dec, 2016
Algenuity is proud to be speaking and exhibiting at the AlgaEurope conference in Madrid, Spain.  The conference began today Tuesday 13th December 2016 and runs until Thursday 15th December 2016.

Dr. Andrew Spicer, Algenuity CEO,will be speaking in the third session today at 2:10pm.  His talk is titled, "Surf and turf: transferring triterpenoid plant-metabolic pathways to micro-algal hosts and their growth optimisation".

The talk is part of the third session that is titled, "Genetically improved and GMO algae for high value products and commodities".  The session is chaired by Professor Sammy Boussiba of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the session includes talks from Professor Herminia Rodríguez of University of Seville, Professor Saul Purton of University College London , and Dr. Maria Huete-Ortega of University of Sheffield .  More information on the conference program can be found here: http://algaecongress.com/2016-conference-program/

Algenuity are also exhibiting their innovative Algem labscale photobioreactor.   The team are growing Chlorella sorokiniana are running a simple experiment over the three days.  Be sure to stop by and check out how the algae are growing!

More information about AlgaEurope can be found here: http://algaecongress.com/
By algenuity 09 Dec, 2016
On Saturday 26th November 2016, Algenuity-funded Dr. Stephen Rowden successfully graduated from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.  Stephen was part of the lab of Professor Chris Howe .

Stephen's thesis title is, "The interface between electrochemistry and genetics: wiring into photosynthetic gene expression".  This aligns with Algenuity's interest in developing tools and modular parts for algal synthetic biology.

Stephen's Ph.D. was part of the Industrial CASE studentship through the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).   Algenuity began funding Stephen's Ph.D. in 2012.  This is part of Algenuity's deep commitment to investing in the next generation of algal molecular biologists.

Algenuity has continued with this commitment, and in January 2016, Algenuity began funding the Ph.D. of Patrick Hickland, a former Algenuity intern, who is in the lab of Professor Alison Smith in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge.
By algenuity 12 Sep, 2016
Sampling algal cultures for transcriptomics, proteomics, and enzymatic assays needs to be done quickly and without changing the culturing environment. One common sampling approach is to pause the Algem®, open the Algem® reactor lids, take the Algem® flasks to a laminar flow hood, take the samples, return the flasks to the Algem® reactors, and then resume the Algem® experiment. In most cases, this is a suitable sampling approach.

However, one problem with this sampling approach is that the Algem® flask leaves the controlled light and temperature environment of the Algem® reactor and is temporarily exposed to different conditions. Illumination periods of seconds have been demonstrated to have an effect on gene expression (Huysman 2013). In addition, the sampling approach is somewhat time intensive and limits the possibility of sampling every minute or in smaller unit time series.

By algenuity 31 Aug, 2016

Tom Butler is finishing up a 9 month internship with Algenuity and will be headed to the University of Sheffield this autumn to start his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr Raman Vaidyanathan.  Mike Yates, our Head of Business Development at Algenuity, sat down with Tom to chat about his experience at Algenuity.

 

You have had a long-standing interest in the environment and marine studies. Can you share a little bit more?

 

I have always loved the ocean and marine life.  For my undergraduate degree, I followed this passion and studied Marine Biology at Newcastle University.  And outside the lab, I have been an avid scuba diver. Earlier this year, I travelled to Sri Lanka to go on a dive trip, and in two weeks, I am going out for a dive trip to Malta!

 

Brilliant. So how did you get into algae?

 

Learning from and working with Gary Caldwell at Newcastle really opened me up to the positive potential for algae for real world issues and how algae can provide sustainable solutions to energy and food challenges.  At Newcastle, we conducted several practicals on micro- and macroalgae.  This motivated me to apply to SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science) for their MRes programme in Algal Biotechnology.

 

How was the experience at SAMS? Would you recommend the programme?

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the masters year at SAMS.  I deepened my microbiology knowledge, expanded my toolset, and developed my algal research skills.  I did my dissertation on "An alternative strategy for astaxanthin production using Haematococcus pluvialis ".

 

Yes, I would definitely recommend the SAMS Algal Biotechnology MRes programme .  It provided me with a solid foundation for this year’s industrial internship and will prove to be invaluable for my future Ph.D. studies.  It was also great to be mentored by leading algal biologists, such as Professor John Day and Dr Michele Stanley.  I also really loved being in the SAMS location of Oban, Scotland.  It is so beautiful there, and it is great for adventure enthusiasts.

 

What has been some of the highlights of your Algenuity internship?

 

I have enjoyed working with the extremely talented scientists and the multidisciplinary team here at Algenuity and Spicer Consulting.  It is such a dynamic and innovative environment.

 

It has been particularly great to be specifically mentored by Michiel Matthijs, the CSO of Algenuity.  I have learned a lot about rigorous experimental design, analysis of data, and drawing conclusions for the purpose of either future papers or patents.  Michiel has also taught me how to use some of the key equipment in the labs, including the liquid handling robot and the 384-well qPCR machine.  It has been a lot of fun.

 

Any other highlights?

 

I enjoyed growing my algal molecular biology skills and learning about genetic manipulation of algae.  Algenuity is the perfect place to learn about this.  I worked mostly with Phaeodactylum tricornutum and developed and worked with tags, such as the uracil 3 marker and the halo tag.

 

I also have enjoyed producing the Algem application notes .  It has been great to work with a large variety of algae and optimise growth conditions for the algae.  I particularly enjoyed working with extremophilic species of algae, such as the acidophile and thermophile, Galdieria sulphuraria ; the alkaliphile, Arthrospira platensis ; and the psychrophile, Fragilariopsis cylindrus .

 

Did you have a particular favourite application note?

 

My favourite application note was studying the locally bioprospected Haematococcus pluvialis strain .  As I mentioned earlier, I did my dissertation on Haematococcus pluvialis .

 

What made this application note particularly interesting was that one of the constraints of industrially produced astaxanthin is the temperature range.  Optimal growth for normal Haematococcus pluvialis strains is usually between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.  If the temperature is higher, cells in the green stage transition to cysts/aplanospores, and this limits biomass yields and flexibility.

 

At Algenuity, we have isolated a Haematococcus pluvialis strain that thrives at 30 degrees Celsius and remains in the green stage without the induction of aplanospores.  This increased temperature range has positive industrial implications.  Overall, it shows the power and potential of bioprospecting.

 

A bit of a geeky algae question – is Haematococcus pluvialis your favourite alga? Mine is Euglena gracilis .

 

Actually, my favourite alga is the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum .  I am actually going to be studying Phaeo for my upcoming Ph.D. at Sheffield.

 

I love how Phaeo has a fast growth rate and is less sensitive to contamination than other microalgae.  It is like a weed and just grows and grows!  I also appreciate that the genome has been sequenced, that the molecular toolbox continues to develop and improve, and that there are transformation approaches available.

 

With your extensive work with the Algem application notes, it is fair to say that you have used the Algems more than any previous intern we have had at Algenuity. What particularly do you like about the Algem?

 

The tightness of errors bars for growth and environmental parameters such as temperature, light, and pH is hands down the best thing about the Algem.

 

Coming from a marine background, I have found it really useful to monitor and control the pH level at a set pH range or pH level.  For example, seawater often has a set pH, and it is very useful to simulate conditions in the alga’s native environment.  I also appreciate the geographical modelling feature of the Algem where you can pretty much model any daylight and temperature profile from around the world by inputting a longitude and latitude value.  From an ecological point of view, it is powerful to be able to study the organism under environmental parameters close to its true environment, including cloud cover!

 

I have also valued how you can sample simultaneously over a planned time course while the Algem is running through a sterile syringe and vacuum manifold system.  Michiel and I did an extensive qPCR experiment investigating circadian rhythms and the disruption of these systems using Phaeodactylum tricornutum using this technique.

 

Out of curiosity, did you use any particular geographical regions in any of your Algem experiments?

 

I did an experiment with Chlorococcum novae-angliae modelled in its place of origin in the California, USA area.  I also studied Desmodesmus abundans and Desmodesmus subspicatus modelled in different locations of India and China to look for areas with low labour and land costs and locations that could be useful for bioremediation.

 

You are headed up to the University of Sheffield this autumn to begin your Ph.D. in the lab of Dr Raman Vaidyanathan . Can you share what you will be studying?

 

I will be studying Phaeodactylum tricornutum as an aquaculture feedstock to replace fishmeal that is used in the process.  The emphasis will be on optimising protein, fatty acids, and carotenoids.  I have a particular interest in EPA and fucoxanthin. I will be looking at both non-GM and GM tools.  I am very excited to get started at Sheffield!

 

As a closing question, what advice would you give to students who are interested in algae?

 

The microalgae sector is multidisciplinary, and it needs skills from many fields including molecular biology, engineering, ecology, biochemistry, and business.  You can be involved!

 

As far as practical tips, when pursuing a new project or idea, make sure to do background reading.  It is so important.

 

As far as the algae industry, the limit to success is the economics.  The economics should always be in the back of your mind when doing research.

 

Because the field of algae research can be so broad, I find it helpful to keep a focused approach.  I like to try to see things through a problem-solution lens.  I try to make sure I define a problem when beginning a project. It makes pursuing a solution much easier!

 

And lastly, look out for good mentors.  I have been so fortunate to have great mentors, such as Gary Caldwell, John Day, Michele Stanley, and Michiel Matthijs.  They have been pivotal in helping me to grow professionally and helped to accelerate my career.

 

Thanks again Tom for your time and for being willing to do this. You have been a valuable member of our team, and we will miss you. We wish you the best at Sheffield!

By algenuity 17 Aug, 2016

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a motile, unicellular green microalga typically measuring around 10 µm in diameter. It is widely distributed, and is often isolated from soil and freshwater samples. C. reinhardtii has been used as a model organism for over 70 years for both basic and applied research, largely due to its ease of cultivation, rapid doubling time of 6-8 h, and established molecular toolbox (Harris, 2009). Noted areas of study include photosynthesis, phototaxis, cell wall biogenesis, cell cycle events, flagella assembly, mating processes, and nuclear/chloroplast interactions (Rochaix, 1995; Shimogawara et al., 1998; Merchant et al., 2007). Annotated sequences are available for the nuclear, chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes (Merchant et al., 2007, Scaife et al., 2015), and several extensive libraries of mutants have been generated. Transformation of all three genomes have been demonstrated, with nuclear and chloroplast manipulation becoming routine (Boynton et al. 1988; Kindle et al. 1989; Sodeinde and Kindle. 1993).

Recently C. reinhardtii has gained attention as a platform for commercial applications; these include recombinant protein expression (Mayfield et al., 2007; Rosales-Mendoza et al., 2012), biohydrogen production (Torzillo et al., 2015), and as a model testbed for biofuel technologies prior to shuttling into more industrially relevant, but less easy to manipulate, biofuel production strains.

Cultivation of C. reinhardtii is typically conducted mixotrophically on TAP (tris acetate phosphate) medium. Although suitable for lab-scale work, TAP medium is not appropriate for scale up due to its relatively high cost and susceptibility to contamination.

By algenuity 10 Aug, 2016
Dr. Andrew Spicer, CEO of Algenuity, has co-authored a book chapter with Professor Saul Purton of University College London (UCL)  titled, "Genetic Engineering of Microalgae: Current Status and Future Prospects" in the recently published book, "Microalgal Production for Biomass and High-Value Products". 

The book is edited by Stephen Slocombe of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) and John Benemann, CEO of MicroBio Engineering, Inc.

Authors in the new book include Dr. Michele Stanley and Dr. John Day of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Professor Juergen Polle of Brooklyn College at City University of New York (CUNY),  Dr. Michael Huesemann of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Dr. Laura Carney of Heliae, Dr. Joseph Weissman of Exxon-Mobil, and João Navalho of ALGAFARM. 

The full table of contents for the book can be found at this link .  The front matter of the book is currently free .

More information on the book can be found at this link .
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By algenuity 20 Jun, 2017
Welcome to our first Algenuity newsletter!  We hope this newsletter will help you make the most of your Algem labscale photobioreactor, keep you updated on the latest Algenuity news and partnership opportunities, and also show you some interesting algal research examples from our lab and around the world.
By algenuity 10 May, 2017

Arthrospira platensis (commonly referred to as Spirulina , despite belonging to a morphologically distinct genus) is a filamentous cyanobacterium characterised by its beneficial nutritional content, left handed open helical form, and ability to grow under highly alkaline conditions. A. platensis is protein rich and has been utilised as a traditional foodstuff in multiple cultures, most notably in Central America and in the region surrounding Lake Chad. Recently A. platensis has experienced a resurgence as a health food and a source of the blue pigment phycocyanin for use as a food colourant.

By algenuity 10 May, 2017

Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 is a unicellular freshwater cyanobacterium commonly employed as a cyanobacterial model system. It is capable of both photo- and heterotrophic growth making it useful for studying photosynthetic processes, and has a well defined circadian clock. Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 is naturally competent allowing direct uptake of recombinant DNA, and has a well defined molecular toolbox including a sequenced genome. There has also been interest in the use of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 for biofuel applications, both in itself and as a model for other third generation biofuel platforms.

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